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Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender

Acquire an intersectional understanding of the complexities and paradoxes that surround issues of gender and sexuality in the Netherlands — commonly believed to be one of the world’s most progressive and tolerant countries.

The program examines the intersections of gender and sexuality with race, class, and religion and highlights the experiences of the growing number of individuals living in these intersections. It interrogates how identity is affected by gender, sexuality, race, religion, and class, both as they are experienced and as they are perceived. During the program, students connect with different communities within the Netherlands; an excursion to Morocco provides additional international perspectives on program themes.

Major topics of study include:

  • Attitudes toward gender, sexuality, race, class, and religion within white, Muslim, and Afro-Caribbean communities
  • Queer, LGBT, and feminist movements
  • Migration, gender, and sexuality
  • Same-sex marriage rights
  • Transgender issues
  • Sex education

AmsterdamAmsterdam (program base)

Based in Amsterdam, this program offers rich opportunities for students to explore issues of migration, gender, and sexuality based on their interests. Amsterdam’s wealth of community organizations focused on sexuality and gender issues allows students to get actively involved and learn from professionals, researchers, and activists. Community volunteer opportunities help students develop their learning and communicative skills when working with a local organization. In addition, working with these organizations helps students gain access to the community or research subjects that they want to study for their ISP, thus gaining an inside perspective on Dutch society. 

Specialized archives and research centers

The Netherlands hosts a number of specialized archives and research centers related to the program’s themes. Students visit and make use of the International Gay and Lesbian Archive and Information Center housed at the Amsterdam Public Library, the library and archive of the women’s movement in the Atria Knowledge Institute for Emancipation and Women’s History, and the Rutgers World Population Foundation social-sexology library. Students also attend lectures and events at the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality at the University of Amsterdam. Scholars from the center occasionally lecture for SIT and advise students on their Independent Study Projects. Students can also visit the UvA Pride Lectures — a series of lectures focused on LGBT topics — at the University of Amsterdam.

gay pride parade in AmsterdamLocal excursions

In addition to the program’s major excursion to Morocco, students experience local excursions that include a trip to The Hague where students visit the HIVOS international development organization, which supports women’s and LGBT groups around the world. During the visit to the Rutgers World Population Foundation in Utrecht, students meet with professionals involved in developing sex education curriculum and programs used in the Netherlands and internationally.

Independent Study Project

Students spend part of the semester developing and refining their Independent Study Project (ISP) proposal. Students then devote four weeks near the end of the semester working on the ISP in which they pursue original research on a selected topic of interest to them. The ISP is conducted in Amsterdam or another approved location appropriate to the project.

Sample topic areas include:

  • Life stories of female farmers in the Netherlands
  • Multicultural approaches to sex education
  • Female body image in magazines and its effect on women’s self-perception 
  • Perceptions of virginity among young lesbian women
  • The role of Afro-Surinamese women in community activism in Amsterdam Bijlmer
  • Identity and belonging among male GBT Muslim migrants and refugees
  • Family life among same-sex couples


Previous college-level coursework or other preparation in sexuality and/or gender studies, as assessed by SIT.

Access Virtual Library Guide

The program includes two guest lecture series, one around LGBT and feminist studies and one around migration, gender, and sexuality. They are presented by academics, professionals, and grassroots activists. Lecturers represent a range of disciplines, including women’s and gender studies, LGBT studies, migration and ethnic studies, anthropology, sociology, and sexology. Students also participate in a community volunteer experience with a Dutch or international organization.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Theory and Application of Feminist, Lesbigay, and Queer Studies – syllabus
(GEND 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The seminar presents an interdisciplinary look at selected topics in sexuality and gender. Topics include the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) movements, feminism in the Netherlands, sex education, sex work, LGBT education, same sex marriage rights, and transgender issues.

Students attend a guest lecture series in which researchers, practitioners, and activists provide a broad range of perspectives on sexuality and gender in Dutch and international contexts. The lecturers represent a range of disciplines, including political science, women/gender studies, homo studies, media studies, and anthropology. Lecturers include prominent academics, professionals, and activists. Students also attend some of the public lectures at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) presented by the Amsterdam Research Center for Sexuality and Gender (ARC-GS), the George Mosse Foundation, and UvA Pride.

The course also includes a mini seminar series on critical theory. This series explores multiple, often contradictory, theories in describing and analyzing sexuality and gender. The focus of this aspect of the course is on the application of theory in the broader context and in relation to the student’s Independent Study Project.

Migration, Gender, and Sexuality - syllabus
(GEND 3005 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course examines migration and migrant communities in the Netherlands, focusing primarily on postcolonial migration from Indonesia, Suriname, and the Antilles and on labor migration from Turkey and Morocco. The course explores how issues of migration, gender, and sexuality impact the experience of migrants in the Netherlands; the perception of migrant communities by mainstream Dutch society; and Dutch political and everyday discourse on migration and assimilation. During a two-week excursion to Morocco, students examine these issues from the context of one of the primary migrant-sending nations.

Introduction to Dutch Language - syllabus
(DUTC 1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Emphasis is on a working knowledge of Dutch related to sexuality, gender, cross-cultural adaptations, and skills building. For example, students read a Dutch children’s book on sexuality while also learning vocabulary and basic grammar. Students are placed in beginning classes.

Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course explores the concepts of conducting field research, research methodology, and research ethics, particularly in an intercultural context. Course content includes topic selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics; the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; and gathering, organizing, and communicating data. A cornerstone of the course is the oral history module, in which students learn research methods for gathering knowledge through life stories and personal narratives. This portion of the course is especially useful for students incorporating life stories into their Independent Study Project. In addition, each student engages in a community volunteer experience with a local organization throughout the seminar.

Independent Study Project - syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Amsterdam or another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: negotiating religion and homosexuality; interracial relationships in the Dutch postcolonial context; multicultural approaches to sex education and tolerance education; black feminist activism in the Netherlands; Dutch-Moroccan women’s conceptions of virginity; gay men and HIV testing; same-sex marriage.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

moroccoThe Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender program includes exceptional, field-based learning opportunities for a broader and deeper understanding of course content. In addition to shorter, in-country visits, the program travels to Morocco, giving students additional insight on the issues of sexuality, gender, and migration from a different international perspective. 


During this two-week excursion, students engage with Moroccan academics, researchers, and activists to examine the issue of sexuality and gender in a modern and Islamic society. The role of Islamic minorities is a crucial social issue in much of Europe, and issues of gender and sexuality are seen as the most visible fault line of societal tensions. Traveling to Morocco grants students the opportunity to examine these issues from a very different cultural context and perspective. Additionally, as Moroccan immigrants comprise one of the largest migrant communities in the Netherlands, this excursion also focuses on the issue of gender and migration.

The Netherlands

Red Light district AmsterdamThe program also includes excursions within the Netherlands. Highlights include:

  • The Rutgers/World Population Foundation, the Dutch expertise center on sexuality and home to the largest archive dedicated to social sexual research (Utrecht)
  • The HIVOS foundation, one of the main Dutch international development funding organizations, to discuss civil society, sexuality, and development with HIVOS professional staff
  • Amsterdam’s Red Light District with staff from the Prostitute Information Center

Important Travel and Visa Notice

Notice: Students attending this program will travel on a 90-day Schengen Tourist Visa. US citizens are permitted to remain in the Schengen zone on a tourist visa for only 90 days within a 180-day period.

The Schengen zone is a group of European countries, including the Netherlands, with a mutual immigration agreement. Schengen countries are listed here:

The SIT Netherlands program will take the entire 90 days. This means that students cannot travel in the Schengen area 180 days prior to the start of the program, or 180 days after the end of the program. Students planning to participate in another program in Europe either before or after their SIT Netherlands program should inform their admissions counselor immediately.

Yvette KopijnYvette Kopijn, Academic Director

Yvette Kopijn began working with the program in January 2008. In addition to her current role as academic director, she teaches oral history and interviewing workshops. She is an oral historian by profession. Yvette holds a degree in gender and ethnic studies. She is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research and is a member of the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the intersection of gendered survival strategies and constructions of female identity among Javanese-Surinamese women. Specifically, she is examining the influential role that women play in the survival of the Javanese migrant community and how that affects the ways in which they renegotiate their female identity. Yvette expects to defend her dissertation in mid 2014.

Between 2001 and 2007, Yvette worked with several cultural heritage organizations and conducted different oral history projects, including Haar Geschiedenis ("Her history"), an online collection of life stories of migrant women in the Netherlands that was designed for Aletta Institute for Women’s History. She also worked on Javanen in Diaspora, an online collection of life stories of Javanese-Surinamese people living in Indonesia, Suriname, and the Netherlands. This online collection was designed in collaboration with the Royal Dutch Institute for East-Asian and Caribbean Studies and the Foundation for the Commemoration of Javanese Migration (Stichji). 

Yvette comes from a family with diverse sexual and ethnic identities. She was born in Aruba (Dutch Antilles). 

Astrid Jehle, Program Assistant and Community Volunteer Experience Coordinator

Astrid Jehle handles many of the administrative and organizational details of the program and assists in the various workshops and excursions. Astrid grew up in a Dutch/German family in the south of the Netherlands. She holds a BA in liberal arts & sciences and an MSc (research) in psychology. She held several teaching positions, from snowboard instructor to research skills lecturer. For a local NGO for LGB rights, she volunteers as an LGBT educator in Dutch high schools. At SIT, she assists with the organizational aspects and implementation of the Netherlands program. She also helps students find interesting Community Volunteer Experiences (CVE).

Bastiaan Franse, Homestay Coordinator

Bastiaan Franse’s task is to find host families who will welcome students into their homes for the program’s time in Amsterdam and to manage all issues related to the homestays. The students check in with the homestay coordinator on a regular basis and the homestay coordinator stays in touch with the host families. Besides working for SIT, Bastiaan works as a social worker with trans* ;youth and their families, facilitates youth groups for trans* youth, and educates high school students and professionals in education and health care on gender diversity. Bastiaan was on the founding board of Transgender Netwerk Nederland and has been working in youth care since 2001.

Paul Marlisa, Financial Assistant

Paul Marlisa assists with administrative tasks, primarily finances, travel arrangements, and IT/communications. In addition to his work with SIT Netherlands, Paul works as a nurse in the neurologic ward of the AMC, the largest academic hospital in Amsterdam.

Eduard Verbree, Language Instructor

Eduard Verbree is the director of Mercuurtaal, an independent language institute. He is a gifted teacher and tailors the Nederlandse les (Dutch class) to the themes of the SIT program. He also coordinates additional classes and activities on aspects of Dutch culture.

Sampling of additional lecturers for this program:

Gert Hekma, PhD

Gert Hekma teaches gay and lesbian studies at the University of Amsterdam's Faculty of Social Sciences. He has published widely on the history and sociology of (homo)sexuality. He co-authored the Dutch Social Planning Office's report on homosexuality Gewoon doen and authored an article on world queer history Van alle culturen, van alle tijden (September 2006).

Joyce Outshoorn, PhD

Dr. Outshoorn is a professor of women's studies at Leiden University, where she teaches in the Department of Political Science within the Faculty of Social Sciences. She is also director of the Joke Smit Institute for Research in Women's Studies at the university. She studied political science and contemporary history at the University of Amsterdam. Her PhD addressed the political debate on abortion legislation in the Netherlands (De politieke strijd rondom de abortuswetgeving in Nederland 1964–1984, Den Haag: VUGA, 1986). She has written on the women's movement, feminist theory, and women's public policy, including editing The Politics of Prostitution: Women's movements, democratic states and the globalisation of sex work, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

She has also been active in the women's movement since its inception in 1970 and has sat on several government committees addressing women's issues.

Marie-Louise Janssen, PhD

Marie-Louise Janssen is a lecturer at the Department of Cultural Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam. Her research is mainly centered on processes of exclusion and inclusion, as well as on how intersections between gender, ethnicity, class, and citizenship take place and shape the experiences of (migrant) sex workers in society.

Marie-Louise Janssen obtained her master’s degree in cultural anthropology at the University of Amsterdam in 1991. She worked with Latin American sex workers both in Nicaragua and in the Netherlands. She finished her PhD in 2007. Her research focused on survival strategies of Latin American sex workers and the way to try to survive in the margins of Dutch society.

Nadia Bouras, PhD

Nadia Bouras recently defended her PhD on Moroccan migration to the Netherlands in the history department of Leiden University. Her research focuses on Moroccan migrants' transnational ties from a historical and gender perspective. Nadia studied history at the Free University in Amsterdam. In 2009, she co-authored a book on Moroccans in the Netherlands. For the past five years, Nadia Bouras was a member of the Moroccan Royal Commission on Moroccans Living Abroad. In Amsterdam, she is actively involved with the Moroccan community and in debates around migration, gender, and Muslim cultures.

Francio Guadeloupe, PhD

Francio Guadeloupe is an anthropologist and a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. Francio lectures in the field of race and multiculturalism. He finished his PhD in 2006 and published several books and articles on race, multiculturalism, Caribbean culture, and religion. In the Netherlands, he is an influential speaker in the debate around the (assumed absence of) racism and racist practices in Dutch society. Francio is currently working on a book on the relation between pop culture, migration, and identity within the Caribbean and Europe. 

Jasmijn Rana

Jasmijn Rana is an anthropologist of Dutch-Pakistani descent. She previously worked at Imagine Identity and Culture, where she hosted her own exhibition on kickboxing Moroccan-Dutch girls. Jasmijn is currently working on a PhD at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Her research focuses on the daily life of young Muslim women in kickboxing. It explores the process of acquiring bodily knowledge and the acquisition of skills as a means of (re)producing notions of self and senses of belonging. Jasmijn is now participating in kickboxing training during her fieldwork in the Netherlands.

homestay family in NetherlandsStudents live with a homestay family in Amsterdam for 12 weeks. Hosts include LGBT households, single parents, and traditional families, all of whom offer unique insights into issues of sexuality and gender within a Dutch or international context.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels and modest hotels.

Program Dates: Fall 2015

Program Start Date:  Aug 24, 2015

Program End Date:    Dec 4, 2015

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   May 15, 2015


SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $15,725

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • LGBT and feminist studies
    • Sexuality
    • Critical theory
    • Tolerance and sexual health education
    • Gender and migration issues
    • Oral history and doing qualitative research
    • Queer theory, migration, and globalization
  • Two guest lecture series
  • Research Methods and Ethics seminar on research methods and Human Subjects Review
  • Introduction course to Dutch language and culture
  • All educational excursions to locations such as Utrecht, The Hague, and Morocco, including all related travel costs
  • Free access to all museums in the Netherlands
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period
  • Bicycle or alternative local transport

Room & Board:$5,250

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Amsterdam), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period.
  • Homestay (twelve weeks in Amsterdam)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: Not yet available.

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $200

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during a semester abroad vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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802 258-3212, 888 272-7881 (Toll-free in the US), Fax: 802 258-3296 

SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

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